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I was born in Malaysia so I was brought up in Asia and so I was really interested in Asian religion as a child. Then, when I was still in Malaysia, I got interested in Tibetan Buddhism because of Lobsang Rampa. He was a great introducer of Tibetan Buddhism to the west and he sold millions of books. He wrote a book called The Third Eye, which I think was his first book, where he claimed that he had an operation to open the third eye, the pineal gland. As his books got more and more outlandish - including a book that was written by his cat and transcribed by Lobsang Rampa - there was a good expose of him in Fortean Times. They discovered he was in fact a plumber who lived, I think, in the north of England called Cyril Henry Hoskins.

I think he had originally been a surgical truss salesman and became a plumber, so taking the mystic truss path, I became interested in Buddhism and I started learning classical Tibetan. You know how people always become interested in things that are foreign to their culture? Because I was surrounded by all the Indian deities they weren't exotic to me. So I became interested in two things: Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity. I spent time in Kathmandu and I studied Tibetan Buddhism under a lama, Chimed Rigdzin Lama Rinpoche who was a tantric master of the Nyingmapa sect, which was fundamentally the oldest branch of Tibetan Buddhism.

I released an album by him which was a solo Tibetan chant. The lineage that he was a member of were non-celibate and he was also a ferocious meat eater. I took him into record some tantric rituals. There's one called Chod. Originally this would be done sitting on top of a corpse in a graveyard. Chod is the Tibetan verb 'to cut' and the point of it was to surround yourself with terror and then to cut the ego; cut yourself up and reassemble yourself in a purer state.

He said, 'Can you go and get me a snack, David?' The engineer was a vegan and I'd earlier told him I'm bringing in a highly respected Buddhist lama chanting some of the truly important Buddhist rituals. I came back in with a blue plastic bag of raw steak that had been chopped into big cubes. So Rinpoche was there eating all this raw steak whilst blowing on a thighbone trumpet and banging a skull drum with blood trickling down his chin. I wish I had it on video.

Connected by George Liu
4 months ago